The Woman in Crimson a vampire novel available Sept 7, 2010 at www.eternalpress.biz by Kathryn Meyer Griffith....
1863…somewhere in Southern Illinois
The men in the blue and gray uniforms had been fighting for
days without end. Miles around the land was scorched, pitted
with holes and littered with bodies in various stages of dying,
death and decay.
For a sultry evening the woman seemed out of place, overdressed
in a blood-edged gown that brushed the earth, a billowy
cape and a hat with a dark veil. She roamed the battlefield foraying
among the remnants of the carnage through a smoky haze, the
shroud hiding her face.
Around her feet rose the moans of injured men. The stench that
came with battle where men fought and died on bloody ground, as
they had so often these last years of the war, and the reek of death
were overpowering. Yet both were perfume to her. She could not
deny that the strife had created a convenient situation for her…
No one questioned a woman combing through the dying, perhaps
for a loved one. People averted their eyes and looked away,
humbled by her grief.
Carefully the woman searched, kneeling on the burnt grass to
turn over a body or murmur softly to a wounded man. She tarried
and appeared to aid one or another, but when she moved on, still
seeking, there was only death behind her.
A cannon’s boom and a volley of gunshots broke the distant
tranquility; shouts and screams echoed and died away into the
smoky twilight as the fighting moved on.
The woman paused, lifted her head, and listened. The wolves,
ghostly shapes that’d shadowed her from her home, were calling
to each other from the fringes of the woods. Great shaggy beasts
with sharp fangs, gleaming ruby eyes and fur as luminous as the
harvest moon; their howling mingled with the human noises from
the field. Since her change, the wolves, her personal guard, accompanied
her everywhere. She didn’t know where they’d come
from, didn’t know if they were real or ghosts. All she knew was
they protected her.
Unaware of the soldier whose eyes were on her, she kept
* * * *
The soldier, a Springfield rifle in his lap, was propped against a
tree because his shrapnel-riddled legs would no longer carry him.
His gaze followed the strange woman in the crimson gown. In another
life he’d been a mountain man in the hills of Kentucky, but
now wore a Union uniform of faded blue and butchered men for
reasons he no longer believed in. In and out of consciousness, he
watched. She’s an angel, he thought at first.
Then he’d seen the flash of fangs behind the black lace and the
blood spurting from the necks of the wounded as she drank. They
couldn’t fight back. He saw the men die and slowly it dawned on
him what she really was. She’s a ghoul, a creature of the night
who has sold her soul to hell for eternal life and drains blood
from mortals so she may live on. Night demon. As a child he’d
heard of these evil abominations from his mother. This woman
The wolves howled in the woods, and the soldier trembled. The
summer’s day was ending, the light waning, and he knew there
was precious little time left.
The ghoul finishing drinking from an unmoving man on the
ground and, coming to her feet, made her way to another.
The soldier raised his rifle and took aim at the ghoul in the
The crack of the Springfield shrieked through the air, and
the bullet found its target. Without a cry, the woman in crimson
crumpled to the earth. Her kind were hard to kill, so he reloaded
and prepared to shoot again. But the night demon did not stir. A
moment to wipe sweat from his brow and, when he looked again,
she was gone.
It was then the real fear began. Had he killed her or was she
somewhere out there stalking him? Making the sign of the cross
he dragged his broken body away from the tree and kept his rifle
If she finds me, I’m dead.
So he hid beneath a pile of corpses and covered his body with
human limbs and bloodied torsos. He waited as night fell, the
temperature dropping as it often did deep in the woods, and the
chill made his body shiver. Wounded and in pain, yet he didn’t
want to die. God, please save me. A farm, a wife and five children
depended on him to come home alive, and he wasn’t going to let
In the darkness he heard the night demon stumbling through
the bodies, seeking him, but he was blessed, and each time she
passed him by. Eventually, exhausted, he dozed off. When he
awoke in the morning, so weakened he could barely open his eyes,
he knew he’d eluded her and thanked God.
A group of soldiers checking through the dead came upon him
and marveled he was still breathing. They shoved him onto a dirty
stretcher and carried him to a camp where a tired doctor set his
arm and amputated one of his legs.
The soldier tried to warn them about the woman in crimson,
but no one believed him. The wounded, the doctor explained, see
many imagined horrors. It was left at that.
* * * *
The lead ripped through her body and sent her to the ground.
The pain, a searing fire, throbbed through her skin and bones. As
her world went black, the largest of the wolves clamped his teeth
around her arm and dragged her away.
When she opened her eyes she was on the edge of the woods,
a short distance from the battlefield. The wolves sat in a circle on
their haunches staring at her through shimmering eyes. The one
who’d saved her hunkered above her. She felt shock, then surprise.
Someone had shot her, yet she was alive. There were holes in
her chest, and there was blood. As she looked at the wounds they
healed in front of her eyes and left only bloodstains on her gown.
She’d never felt so strong.
The wolf tugged her to her feet and retreated with its comrades
into the shadows.
So it was true . Nothing could harm her. She couldn’t die. Her
mother, with her witchcraft, had truly given her secret to eternal
She’d been drinking blood for some years, but it was the first
time her mortality had been tested. No one must know what she
was if she were to remain safe, so she had to silence the man who’d
shot her. People wouldn’t understand. They wouldn’t allow her to
live. She looked for him but couldn’t find him, and soon her hunger,
fueled by the healing, overpowered her fear of discovery. The
night cloaked her, made her invisible, and it was nearly dawn before
she remounted her horse and rode home. She didn’t like sunlight,
it drained her; she had to be home before the day came.
Home to her sanctuary…the house beneath the willows that
stood majestically on the hill overlooking the town and her ancestral
cemetery. It was where she could hide from the world; where
she created the sculptures that her father and the townspeople
despised. The walls of the house were strong, the cellar was deep,
and she could get lost in the acres of rambling gardens or in the
tombs beneath the graveyard. It was her home. ****